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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 18, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men. John Locke

Tour de France: the Inside Story

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Latest completed racing:

Mark Cavendish & Jannik Steimle crash in Danilith Nokere Koerse

Here is a machine translation of the Het Nieuwsblad story:

Mark Cavendish was eliminated by a fall in Nokere Koerse, teammate Steimle to hospital.

Mark Cavendish did not finish behind winner Ludovic Robeet for a place of honor in Nokere Koerse. Cavendish crashed six kilometers from the finish line and lay for a while on the cobblestones of the Huisepontweg. However, the Briton seemed to get up without major injuries and was still out of the race.

Moments later, teammate Jannik Steimle also went down. The German from Deceuninck - Quick-Step was less fortunate and had to be taken to hospital.

Later in the day Team Deceuninck-Quick Step posted this update:

Following his crash in the closing kilometers of Nokere Koerse, Jannik Steimle was taken to the hospital where he underwent a detailed examination to determine his condition. It was immediately revealed that the 24-year-old had suffered an AC luxation of his right shoulder, which will require surgery.

At the same time, Wednesday’s incident left Jannik, who was making just his fifth outing of the season, a fractured rib, a minor pneumo and concussions. Fortunately, the CT scan he had showed no cerebral lesions.

Jannik will remain in hospital overnight to be observed. We wish him a fast and complete recovery!

Bora-hansgrohe report on Danilith Nokere Koerse

Here's the team's post:

The 75th edition of Nokere Koerse kicked off today amidst cool weather and winds. The route commenced in Deinze, covering 195 km of undulating terrain, peppered with a few short climbs and cobblestone sections, before the finale at the Nokereberg.

With 35 km of racing remaining, the peloton split into several groups, with Martin Laas, Jordi Meeus and Lukas Pöstlberger managing to make the cut into the first group behind the escapees. Shortly thereafter, a crash occurred and as a result, Martin suffered a mechanical, which forced him to drop back slightly. Around 20 km later, six of the eight escapees were reeled back in, while two escapees continued to push on and ultimately fought out the victory among themselves. After his attack from the leading group, Ludovic Robeet crossed the finish line solo as the day's winner, while Jordi Meeus, who launched his sprint from behind, produced an impressive turn of speed to take fourth.

Ludovic Robeet

Ludovic Robeet wins in Nokere. Photo: Tim van Wichelen/Cor Vos/Photo News

From the Finish Line:
"It was quite a tough race today, particularly with the cold weather and rainy conditions. The team worked well to get over the cobbled sections and short climbs. After Martin's mechanical, only Lukas and I were left in the chase group behind the break, and he did a fantastic job to bring me to the last climb. Ultimately, we were unable to catch the two escapees and in the sprint for third place, I couldn't really go full throttle from behind the other riders on the finishing straight. Yet under these conditions, we can be pretty pleased with fourth place in such a tough race." - Jordi Meeus

"Today we had to fight headwinds, crosswinds, tailwinds and cobbled sections. We wanted to go for a result with Martin, but he was involved in a crash and had to change his bike 30 km out from the finish. So unfortunately he lost his chance today. We subsequently concentrated on Jordi, who was able to make the cut into the first chasing group together with Lukas. On the home stretch he launched his sprint from quite far behind, but still managed to take an impressive fourth place. To put on such a performance after a long week at Paris-Nice is not necessarily easy, and we're quite happy with how it went." - Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, Sport Director

Grace Brown's Team BikeExchange reports on women's Danilith Nokere Koerse

The team sent me this:

2020 Brabantse Pijl winner Grace Brown animated today’s mid-week Danilith Nokere Koerse, initiating the race winning move before powering to a solid second place in the 124km event.

With rain and wind greeting the riders at the start, plus a scattering of climbs and cobbles on the menu, it was all set to be a tough day out, with the Team BikeExchange rider relishing in the conditions, taking the race into her own hands.

Around the 50km to go mark, Brown launched a fierce attack and successfully opened up a gap before being joined shortly after by Amy Pieters (SD Worx) and Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM Racing). It was touch and go for the trio as the peloton, led by Trek-Segafredo, kept them on a tight leash, danglingly between 20 to 30seconds for the final kilometres.

As the bell lap rang, their gap plummeted to just 16 seconds and it looked as though their chances for victory were over. However, the trio relentlessly fought on ahead and opened up the gap back out to 35 seconds; enough to contest the victory.

Pieters used her quick turn of speed to get the better of the 28-year-old Australian, leaving Brown to settle for second place, a solid result at the start of her Classics campaign.

Amy Pieters

Winner Amy Pieters in a photo taken a few years ago.

Grace Brown – 2nd:
"I felt strong today and can really feel my Classics form building now. The first part of the race was a bit hectic, but as riders started to tire I settled into the peloton a bit better.

"On the final big lap we had planned to start riding aggressively. Other teams seemed to have the same idea and the peloton split with just 25 or so in the front. I took an opportunity when the pace lulled a little to attack on a small cobbled climb. I realised that it was going to be really hard in those conditions to ride solo, so I was please to be joined by Pieters and Klein.

"I was feeling strong in the break and maybe did a bit more work than the others. I felt determined for the move to stick!

"The other two wouldn’t come around me in the final lead-in to the line, so I decided I would just go all out from the bottom of the cobbled climb. Unfortunately Amy Pieters has a really strong finishing kick and was able to come around me.

"It would have been awesome to win, but I’m happy with how I raced and am feeling confident ahead of some of the bigger Belgian cobble classics."

2021 Women's Danilith Nokere Koerse Results:
1. Amy Pieters (SD Worx) 3:13:52
2. Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) ST
3. Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM Racing) +0:04

Deceuninck-Quick Step headed to Milano-San Remo

Here's the team's update:

“La Classicissima” schedules its 112th episode this Saturday, one that will have a slightly altered route, with Colle di Giovo set to replace Passo del Turchino, blocked by a landslide. The rest of the route will remain unchanged, which means the peloton will then take on the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta – these three small climbs serving as an appetizer before the Cipressa and Poggio, where the attacks are expected to come in waves. From the top of the Poggio, only six kilometers remain until the finish on the iconic Via Roma, where the winner will be crowned.

Lots of things can be said about Milano-Sanremo, including that Julian Alaphilippe has a special relationship with it. It was here, in 2017, that he took his first Monument podium after the small group he was part of managed to hold off the charging peloton. Two years later, it was another first for the Frenchman on the Via Roma, as he outsprinted a select field for an unforgettable maiden Monument victory. Then, in a complicated 2020, a season hampered by the pandemic and with just a few days of racing in his legs, he was again on the podium after another blistering attack on the Poggio.

Wout van aert

Julian Alaphilippe is edged out by Wout van Aert in the 2020 Mlano-San Remo.

“I love Milano-Sanremo, it’s such a great race and I’m happy to be heading there again. Doing it in the rainbow jersey this year makes it even more special and exciting. My season so far was good, the condition has been improving since my first race of the year and also the confidence is there. We have a strong and very motivated team and we hope to be there when it will matter”, said Julian ahead of his 14th Monument start.

The UCI World Champion – already victorious this season at Tirreno-Adriatico – will make on Saturday his fifth consecutive appearance at the longest one-day race of the calendar, where he will be joined by another rider who tasted success since the start of the year, Sam Bennett. The man from Carrick-on-Suir has four victories to his name in the last month, all in World Tour races, and will be looking to be in the mix in case the race comes down to a bunch sprint.

Danish Champion Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini – the first Italian in eight years to triumph at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar will also be on Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s team for the first Monument of the year.

“In the past couple of years, we have always featured in the finale at Sanremo. We won’t hide the fact that we would like to do it again this Saturday, but at the same time we know that we are not the favourites for this edition. On the other hand, the riders are really keen on doing their best in this first Monument of the season and we’ll just see what happens”, explained sports director Davide Bramati.

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